Tough for martial artists to get insurance

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) continues to battle a perception problem as insurance companies keep their distance from those participating in the sport.

National MMA athlete Colleen Augustin admitted it was difficult for her to secure insurance coverage as the sport is “too high-risk”.

“It’s frustrating. If MMA is a sport, then its athletes should be treated like any other athlete and be allowed to get some form of insurance coverage. Why the double standard?” Augustin asked.

“I found it tough securing life and medical insurance coverage. My insurance agent said if anything happens to me during a competition, the company will not fork out a single sen as I am placing myself in a risky situation. It defeats the purpose of having an insurance plan.”

The Penangite, who won Malaysia’s first gold medal in the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) Asian Open Championships (women’s strawweight category) last year, admitted international organisers offer some form of insurance coverage for the athletes.

“But what about the smaller and local events? What about amateur events?”

Most insurance companies do not offer a specific insurance plan for athletes.

One insurance company offers ‘sports personal accident’ and has martial arts in its list but excludes boxing and wrestling. The company also does not cover those who compete professionally.

An insurance agent from another company, who declined to be named, said insurance companies would treat such matters on a “case-by-case basis”.

“It will not be a straightforward affair. The insurance company will review the policy and may either charge a higher premium due to the risks involved or will not cover the individual for all critical illnesses.

“The company may issue a disclaimer saying injuries sustained from competitions will not be covered,” she said.

Augustin spoke about this during a webinar organised by the Malaysia Mixed Martial Arts Association (MASMMAA) on Monday night.

The session organised by MASMMAA on Monday night.

She was joined by, among others, IMMAF director of marketing and communications Isobel Carnwath and MASMMAA president Rashid Salleh.

The session ‘Is MMA a sport?’ aired live on MASMMAA’s Facebook page, saw the panellists discuss the perception problem faced by the sport and ongoing efforts to get the International Olympic Committee to recognise it.